Immigrant Blues #1-3
2019—01, 04
Denver, CO + New York, NY

Mixed Media on Paper
56x76 cm | 22x30 in

The first in the series, IMMIGRANT BLUES #1: KOSHARI, deals with the realization that although there are more pressing things to be concerned about in the world, one cannot help be be selfish sometimes and obsess about the obscenely trivial, in this case “Abu Tarek”, a famous eatery in downtown Cairo that serves one dish and one dish only: Koshari - a popular Egyptian working class dish that noone regardless of class can resist because it is… slammin’ (and contains enough carbs to fuel you for a good week). The backdrop, comprised of an abstracted typeface, reads: “When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty” (a quote by Thomas Jefferson), referencing all that is wrong with the world and the things that should instead be on everyone’s mind.

Number two in the triptych, IMMIGRANT BLUES #2: THAWRA, features the character (me, Ganzeer) remembering when “thawra” was fun. Thawra being the Arabic word for revolution. Clearly reminiscing on 2011, when not just the Arab Spring was an optimistic notion, but the upheavals and public square takeovers happening across the world were as well.The backdrop features graffiti-style writing that reads “me me me me…” as well as an abstraction of some of the things spoken during the Tahrir square uprising of 2011.

Number three in the triptych, IMMIGRANT BLUES #3: MOLOKHEYA,  features a thought balloon that reads: “Oh God, I miss ‘molokheya’”, molokheya being a popular Egyptian dish that isn’t particularly easy to come by outside of Egypt. A stew made of a leafy green known as “Jew’s Mallow” (at least as far as Wikipedia claims), molokheya’s texture is what one might call “slimy”. Don’t let the color or texture freak you out though, because it is scrumptious, especially when garnished with minced garlic fried to a crisp and served on a bed of white rice (short and plump) with a side of roast rabbit (or chicken) and traditional Egyptian salad (salata baladi). The backdrop features a phrase commonly announced on NY subway loudspeakers, further drawing home the point of the character’s (my own) homesick status.

The original impetus for the series was an interrogation of Roy Lichtenstein’s famous CRYING WOMAN painting and the artworks it has hence inspired: weeping women illustrated in a comic-booky pop-art style. I couldn’y help but wonder why is it always the women who’re crying? It’s high time for a series of weeping men. But then painting any random weeping male didn’t really feel like enough for me. I landed upon myself as the most obvious subject for this series which lead me to explore the things that make me sad.

Moniker Art Fair, NYC — 2019
ArteEast Legacy Trilogy — 2021 (Immigrant Blues #3 only)